ENGLISH 5060/7053

Winter 2017
Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30 - 5:20 pm
State 326

Web address for this page:

Steven Shaviro (shaviro@shaviro.com or shaviro@wayne.edu)

5057 Woodward, Room 9309
Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday 1 pm - 2 pm, and by appointment

Melodrama is one of the most despised of all narrative forms, but also one of the most popular. It is commonly reproached for sentimentality, hyperemotionalism, sensationalism, and stereotyping. It seeks to reduce its audience to tears, rather than to make that audience laugh, or ponder issues, or feel invigorated by heroic fantasies. Yet melodrama has consistently appealed to audiences for something like two hundred years. In particular, melodrama has often addressed female audiences, and explicitly focused upon women's concerns. It generally takes place within, and is concerned with, the domestic sphere, which tends to be ignored by more male-oriented genres. Melodrama often raises questions -- in disturbing or embarrassing ways -- about gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, and social class. And it commonly needs to be read against itself, with underlying moods and emotions that contradict its obvious, highly conservative and conformist, themes. For all these reasons, many critics and theorists -- feminist theorists in particular -- have taken melodrama seriously, and positively re-evaluated it. In this class, we will look mostly at Classical Hollywood movie melodramas, together with a few contemporary ones, and a few from other countries and traditions. We will also read some of the important critical discussions of melodrama that have been published in the last forty years or so.

Class requirements include regular attendance, participation in class discussion, and completion of writing assignments:


By the end of the course, successful students will have learned about the history, aesthetics, politics, and influence of Hollywood movie melodramas.

In addition, by the end of the course successful students should be able to:

In addition, by the end of the course successful graduate students should be able to:

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